At the beginning of the year, the European Union was hit in the proverbial gut with a scandal that called into question, what, exactly, was everyone eating? After all of the concern and safeguards put into place after the Mad Cow scare of the 1990s, you would think that the European meat supply would be safe and free of any mislabeling. Think again. In early January samples of, what was believed to be, beef were shown to contain sizable bits of horsemeat. The horse-gate crisis has since expanded to a dozen countries in the EU (with no sign yet of making an appearance in the U.S. but I wouldn’t doubt it) and has set the powers that be in the EU reeling.
Now, the populist modular furniture brand IKEA finds itself embroiled in the controversy with news this week that reveals that some of their ever-popular Swedish meatballs have horsemeat in them. Granted the findings were limited to an IKEA in the Czech Republic, but seemingly the damage is done.
Those of us that don’t eat meat may just dismiss the whole controversy as a case of splitting farm animal hairs (and some of those that do eat meat may not care one iota). However, the health and safety standards in the EU for raising cattle, compared to those of raising horses, are quite different. Because horses are generally not raised for human consumption, they are subject to different standards and exposures to medicines, chemicals, and pathogens. Therefore, even if eating a hamburger is barely considered safe in your book, a horsemeat burger is likely even less safe. While all of this is going on, European nations have stepped up DNA tests of meat products to determine their provenance, and these are producing more unwelcome discoveries every week, and likely weeks to come.
What is your feeling on such findings? Does the fact that the EU (which is traditionally more stringent and progressive than the U.S. in these matters) has failed its public create more concern, or less, for those of us that live in the U.S. as well as other countries? And if we are already eating meat, is horsemeat all that much worse?
(If you want to tell the EU that you stand against horsemeat, feel free to sign the petition below the related stories.)